William Reed (RAF officer)

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William Ernest Reed
Born (1896-03-23)23 March 1896
Jarrow, South Tyneside, England
Died Unknown
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Royal Air Force
Rank Captain
Unit Royal Engineers
No. 19 Squadron RFC
No. 92 Squadron RAF
Awards Distinguished Flying Cross
Mentioned in Despatches

Captain William Ernest Reed DFC was an English World War I flying ace credited with nine aerial victories. He continued in military service until 1938.

Early life[edit]

William Ernest Reed was born at Jarrow, Tyneside, on 23 March 1896.[1]

World War I[edit]

Reed first served as a corporal in the Tyne Electrical Engineers, before being commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Durham Fortress Engineers on 25 June 1915.[2] Both were Royal Engineers units of the Territorial Force, engaged in coastal defence works in the north-east.

On 5 September 1916 Reed was seconded for duty in the Royal Flying Corps,[3] and was appointed a flying officer the same day.[4] He was posted to No. 19 Squadron, and claimed his first aerial victory while on a bomber escort mission, on 14 April 1917. He scored again eight days later, but was wounded by ground fire in the process.[5] On 10 May 1917 Flight magazine reported Reed as wounded in action.[6] A week later, Flight noted that Reed had been mentioned in despatches.[7]

On 1 July 1917 he was promoted to lieutenant, with precedence from 1 June 1916, in the Royal Engineers, while remaining seconded to the RFC.[8]

On 1 April 1918 Reed was appointed a temporary captain "whilst so employed"[9] to serve as a flight commander in the newly formed No. 92 Squadron. He scored seven aerial victories with them between August and October, but was wounded again on 3 November 1918.[5] His exploits earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross, which would not be gazetted until 8 February 1919. His citation read:

Lieutenant (Acting-Captain) William Ernest Reed.
"A brilliant and skilful scout leader. On 29th October, although seriously handicapped by clouds, he led a successful patrol over the enemy lines. Attacking a large formation of enemy machines, his own formation accounted for five, he himself destroying one and driving down another out of control. In addition to these he has to his credit three other enemy aircraft."[10]

List of aerial victories[edit]

Combat record[1][5]
No. Date/time Aircraft/
Serial No.
Opponent Result Location Notes
1 14 April 1917
@ 1200 hours
German reconnaissance aircraft Driven down out of control Douai
2 22 April 1917
@ 0715 hours
Albatros reconnaissance aircraft Set afire; destroyed South of Quiéry-la-Motte Reed wounded in action by ground fire
3 25 August 1918
@ 1115 hours
Fokker D.VII Destroyed South of Armentières
4 5 September 1918
@ 1100 hours
Fokker D.VII Destroyed Southwest of Cambrai
5 23 October 1918
@ 1300 hours
DFW reconnaissance aircraft Destroyed South of Pont-du-Nord Shared with James Robb, Evander Shapard, James Victor Gascoyne, Thomas Stanley Horry, and four other pilots
6 23 October 1918
@ 1330 hours
DFW reconnaissance aircraft Destroyed Northeast of Englefontaine
7 29 October 1918
@ 0930 hours
Fokker D.VII Driven down out of control Northeast of Forêt de Mormal
8 29 October 1918
@ 1030 hours
Fokker D.VII Destroyed East of Le Quesnoy
9 Fokker D.VII Driven down out of control

Post-war career[edit]

On 25 March 1921 Reed relinquished his temporary commission in the Royal Air Force, upon his appointment into the Territorial Force; he retained the courtesy rank of captain.[11] On 11 April was commissioned as a lieutenant in the 50th (Northumbrian) Divisional Engineers (Territorial Force).[12]

Between 24 May[13] and 8 July 1921[14] he served as a temporary lieutenant in the Defence Force, a unit "formed to help maintain law and order, and to render any necessary assistance in protecting those employed on carrying on the essential services of the country, without which the people of the country might starve",[15] during the industrial unrest around the 1921 miner's strike.[16] On 7 October 1921 he was promoted to captain in the 50th (Northumbrian) Divisional Engineers.[17] He eventually resigned his commission on 15 October 1938.[18]


  1. ^ a b "William Ernest Reed". The Aerodrome. 2015. Retrieved 2 December 2015. 
  2. ^ "No. 29205". The London Gazette (Supplement). 22 June 1915. p. 6159. 
  3. ^ "No. 29764". The London Gazette. 26 September 1916. p. 9358. 
  4. ^ "No. 29764". The London Gazette. 26 September 1916. p. 9348. 
  5. ^ a b c Shores, Franks & Guest (1990), p. 316.
  6. ^ "The Roll Of Honour: Wounded". Flight. IX (437): 449. 10 May 1917. Retrieved 2 December 2015. 
  7. ^ "Mentioned In Despatches". Flight. IX (438): 485. 17 May 1917. Retrieved 2 December 2015. 
  8. ^ "No. 30347". The London Gazette (Supplement). 19 October 1917. p. 10895. 
  9. ^ "No. 30660". The London Gazette. 30 April 1918. p. 5210. 
  10. ^ "No. 31170". The London Gazette. 7 February 1919. p. 2045. 
  11. ^ "No. 32270". The London Gazette. 25 March 1921. p. 2407. 
  12. ^ "No. 32287". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 April 1921. p. 2881. 
  13. ^ "No. 32333". The London Gazette (Supplement). 24 May 1921. p. 4163. 
  14. ^ "No. 32436". The London Gazette (Supplement). 25 August 1921. p. 6760. 
  15. ^ Worthington Worthington-EvansSecretary of State for War (14 April 1921). "Defence Force". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. col. 1299. 
  16. ^ Baker, Chris (2015). "The Defence Force 1921". 1914-1918.net. Retrieved 2 December 2015. 
  17. ^ "No. 32479". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 October 1921. p. 7882. 
  18. ^ "No. 34561". The London Gazette. 14 October 1938. p. 6438. 
  • Shores, Christopher F.; Franks, Norman & Guest, Russell F. (1990). Above the Trenches: a Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the British Empire Air Forces 1915–1920. London, UK: Grub Street. ISBN 978-0-948817-19-9.